The Girl He Used to Know – Tracey Garvis Graves

Rating: 3 stars (would go to 3.5 if Goodreads allowed)

Cliff Notes: This was a fun, quick little read.

Full Summary: Part of what was fun for me with this book is that I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The main character goes to school at U of I around the time when I was there. I recognized several of the places mentioned.

I also related to how awkward Annika is. I tend to lean towards awkward myself! I have never been diagnosed with autism, and honestly I don’t even think we needed to go there in this book. I read somewhere that we are all on the spectrum. In my opinion, leaving out the diagnosis would have been more compelling because it would have been more relatable. It would have made her “weirdness” all of our “weirdness.”

The Girl He Used to Know - Tracey Garvis Graves
By |2019-12-12T19:15:31-05:00September 17th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Deeply Odd – Dean Koontz

Rating: 2 stars

Cliff Notes: Nope. Done with this series and maybe Dean Koontz. 

Full Summary: OK, ok – I said before that I was done with Odd Thomas. But Bixby told me this book was the last in the series so I had to find out how Odd dies. Well, my husband is a liar. This is not the last in the series. Unless you are me, then it is the last in the series because I am done with Odd Thomas. I might even be done with Dean Koontz.

Deeply Odd - Dean Koontz

There is some criticism of Dean Koontz for “being too in the weeds.” I am not sure if the weeds thing is how I would describe my frustration. It is more like parts of the book don’t move the book forward and are mind numbingly boring. At one stretch in this book Koontz spent around 50 pages walking Odd around a warehouse. I KNOW WHAT A WAREHOUSE IS, GIVE ME SOME PLOT FOR THE LOVE OF PETE!!!

Friends, I threw this book. I wanted to wait until Bixby came to bed and throw it at him, but I cannot stay up that late.

Here is an example of a paragraph that I just could have lit on fire and sent out to sea:

From p. 130: “Even in the remote reaches of the Mojave, even on night when two thousand feet of dense elliptical clouds separated the desert from the glowing wonders of the universe, the land gave off at least a dim light, the product of a natural radiation, of minerals in the soil, and of certain vaguely luminous plants. Not here.”

This is 55 words, twisting around into clauses that ramble and end nowhere… to say NOT HERE. What the heck?! No.Thank.You. Sir.
By |2019-12-12T19:16:20-05:00September 11th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Fleishman Is in Trouble – Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: I like the different perspectives. But did it really take 12 hours to tell us his struggle and 1 hour to tell her side?

Full Summary: This book reminded me of a watching the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale and listening to the Eyes on Gilead podcast after each episode. I was super excited for the post season live show recording. There are always insightful comments by the podcast hosts, and I was sure the Q&A session was going to be AMAZING. Then the first question is from a dude asking something inane about THT being about empowering women. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! DID YOU EVEN WATCH THE SHOW EVER?! GET OFF THE DAMN MICROPHONE.

Fleishman Is in Trouble - Taffy Brodesser-Akner

I put this book on my TBR because Elizabeth Gilbert told me to. After City of Girls, I want to do everything she says. This is from her review: “Just the sort of thing that Philip Roth or John Updike might have produced in their prime (except, of course, that the author understands women).”—Elizabeth Gilbert. Wow, a man who understands women?! Sign. Me. Up.

<<Insert sound of needle scratching across a record here.>>

It was a big NOPE.

This book goes on for HOURS about well, Fleishman being in trouble. His wife has left him with the kids so he cannot hook up with random strangers from Tinder. Then there is a “twist,” and we hear about the woman’s side for approximately 10% of the narration. Give me a break. I am sure the point was supposed to be “Ooooohhhh, I guess this means there are 2 sides to every story,” but really there are three – yours, mine and the truth.

In the book there is a comment by the friend about how no one wants to read a book that is not about a man. Is this some meta statement because I think that what the author is exactly trying to do with Fleishman is in Trouble. I felt duped and strung along, then walloped upside the head with how hard life is for white men. Give me a fucking break.

By |2019-12-12T19:16:39-05:00September 8th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day – S.A.R.K.

Rating: 5 stars

Cliff Notes: I can definitely see myself returning to this book again and again. It is like a reference book for the creative person I want to be.

Full Summary: A friend gave this book to me as a gift after we were in a group study of The Artist’s Way. It took me a few months to work my way through it, as it often does with non-fiction. And that was without doing any of the exercises in the book – just a straight read through. I can envision a time in my life where I WILL go back and do exercises in specific chapters, or refer to different resources that SARK highlights at the end of each chapter.

I have meandered through the author’s website a few times and what a powerful resource. I sort of want to live on Planet Sark.

Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day - S.A.R.K.

By |2019-12-12T19:17:11-05:00September 6th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Secret Sisters – Jayne Ann Krentz

Rating; 3 stars

Cliff Notes: I stayed up late to read this book the first night. Then I got into the love story and threw up in my mouth. Ugh.

Full Summary: Gosh, there was so much potential when I first started this book. And you know what they say about potential – just means you ain’t done it yet.

It started out with tension and kind of scary for a sissy like me. I read about 50 pages the first night as we established the conflict, etc. Then all of a sudden the ball busting strong woman needs a dude to solve the problem. Like a freight train coming down the track, you can see it coming, so I don’t need to call this a spoiler alert – she ends up madly in love with said Man Who Saves the Day. They have so little chemistry that I had to skip the sexy parts because it just did not land with me. OK, it grossed me out.

Secret Sisters - Jayne Ann Krentz
By |2019-12-12T19:17:31-05:00September 4th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Dream Daughter – Diane Chamberlain

Rating: 4 stars


Full Summary: Time travel always seems like a great idea to me. I mean… Outlander, amIright?! After I read the first Outlander book, I started to learn more about herbal medicine so I am ready. There is a little ring of stones at the top of my neighborhood. Let me tell you – there are times I drive by after a long day at work or a trying “discussion” with the kids and just gaze longingly at them…

Anywho. This. Book. People! I would have rated it 5 stars because I liked the characters and the plot really zipped along without getting bogged down in the science of time travel. The sister was a bit whiney at times, but I guess if my sister vanished into thin air with a return date of TBD, I may be a bit off also. But I rated it 4 stars because as you know, I CANNOT abide by happy endings.

The Dream Daughter - Diane Chamberlain
By |2019-12-12T19:17:52-05:00September 2nd, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Guilty – David Baldacci

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: Good read for what I am looking for this week. 

Full Summary: Not much to really report here. I liked this book for what it was – a distraction. Things wrapped up sort dippy and Jesus Pete, the body count! But the fact that Will and Jess did not fall into bed at the end (spoiler! #SorryNotSorry) made me happy. Apparently this is a series with the same dude – Will Robie. I liked the strong female in Jess, but she was not a super overcompensating ball buster.

The Guilty Will Robie David Baldacci
By |2019-12-12T19:18:12-05:00August 31st, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth – Sarah Smarsh

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: So many social justice issues in this memoir. While hiking with our dogs during the days I was reading this book, I found myself shouting at Bixby and his friend about some of these concerns.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth Sarah Smarsh

Full Summary: I never put details in my reviews about what the book is about because seriously – just Google it or read the back of the book to find out what it’s about. But I am including the book details from Smarsh’s website because I think we get bogged down in terms like “Social Justice” and turned off by tag-lines like “Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.” Honestly, I am not even sure I am using the term “social justice” correctly. Read this summary don’t get outraged – I triple dog dare you. Then read the book, and YOU explain where they could have “just done XYZ to get out of the situation.”

Note: Bold type below is mine for EMPHASIS so we PAY ATTENTION.

Smarsh was born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, the child of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. In HEARTLAND, she introduces readers to a compelling cast of characters through the generations—grandmothers who act as second mothers, farmers who work themselves to the bone, builders who can’t afford their own homes, children who move from school to school. Smarsh maps her family’s impoverished lives against the destruction of the working class that the Reagan era wrought: the demise of the family farm, the dismantling of public health care, the defunding of public schools, and wages so stagnant that full time laborers could no longer pay the bills. Readers will learn what Smarsh did: the working poor in America are sold a lie. Working hard in this country probably won’t get you ahead after all.

Now I must climb off my soap box and get to work. Let me leave you with this one gem from the book:

What you don’t transmute, you transmit.

By |2019-12-12T19:18:38-05:00August 29th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Inés of My Soul – Isabel Allende

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: This book felt like it took forever to read. Her books are always dense and the translation and foreign names are harder to catch onto.

Full Summary: This author’s books are so well researched about topics that are fascinating yet not broadly written about. I like to read about the interpersonal stories, but I got bogged down in the stories about the actual conquering of Chile.

What I love most about Isabel Allende’s writing is her turn of phrase, even through the translation. Perhaps this is just my mood after Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale and listening to the best podcast about THT, but I am super fed up with the patriarchy. Anyway, here is a sample:

“Courage is a virtue appreciated in a male but considered a defect in our gender. Bold women are a threat to a world that is badly out of balance, in favor of men. That is why they work so hard to mistreat us and destroy us. But remember that bold women are like cockroaches: step on one and others come running from the corners.”

Inés of My Soul Isabel Allende

By |2019-12-12T19:18:54-05:00August 27th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch – Haywood Smith

Rating: DNF after 25 pages

Cliff Notes: My life is too short to read a book where the dad is called The General and the mom is Miss Mamie. By everyone.

Full Summary: I like a cutesy southern read (looking at you DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD) and I recently LOVED Southern Lady Code, but this is over the top. It took me 4 days to get through 25 pages.

Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch Haywood Smith
By |2019-12-12T19:19:10-05:00August 25th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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